Is a career or a job more important?

September 23, 2009

It is a cliché that building careers not finding jobs that helps in being successful. But is there a real difference between the two? Let us first take a look at what is the typical approach practised by many young people. As soon as education is completed, most of the youth look for a ‘job’ and the jobs are evaluated on the basis of the earning potential, promotion possibilities, the opinions of friends in the industry and the perceived value of the ‘job’ in the known circles. Once someone is on the ‘job’, the next most important aspiration is to get promotion or more money with the same company or with another. Very often he/she could hop from one ‘job’ to another with ease for better ‘prospects’ as experienced talent at entry levels has always been in short supply and the employers have been willing to pay a premium to attract such talent.

But then, the scenario is changing now. Firstly, jobs are not easy to find, not only because they may not be in as many numbers as were in the past, but also because the employers have become choosy and their expectations are changing. If, in the past, employers were willing to recruit freshers and provide them training anywhere from 3 weeks to 9 months, today they expect the ideal recruits to come equipped with skill sets they would have to otherwise train them in. Once the candidate joins the organization, promotions and entitlements do not come easy anymore, he/she is expected to demonstrate competence and also willingness to stretch beyond the ‘defined expectations’ of the role to capture the attention of the bosses and the peers. In order to manage this shift taking place in the workplace, it is imperative to appreciate how to plan the work phase after education.

The starting point for planning one’s work phase is to distinguish a career from a job. A job should be seen as a step towards a career and not as an end in itself. In order to plan a career, therefore, it is important to understand and identify one’s own potential and strengths and embark upon a path that is built around them. The gaps identified to meet the industry expectations can be filled by relevant training programmes in order to be equipped with relevant skill sets to launch into the career of your choice. Just having several strings of qualifications in one’s resume are not enough, training and qualification with reference to the career are accorded more value by the employer.

Career orientation would require one to be focused on developing one’s skill sets in the specific domain as well as develop the all round capabilities beyond the narrow definition of the job. While it may not be easy for all to have a very clear vision at the start of the career, being focused on doing the best at every stage of the career and have willingness to learn and adapt continuously would bring in sharper focus on career goals and build the resilience to navigate towards these goals.


Give a superb interview

September 16, 2009

Many say that the ‘tell me about yourself’ question is something that an interviewer asks when they are out of things to ask you about or say. Many times an interviewer may simply be asking you this just because they have not yet had a chance to look through your resume yet.

Assuming your interviewer is in this position, you can make the most of it by relating how your specific skills and talents coincides with the needs of the organization. Having read up on what kind of candidate they’re looking for helps when using this approach to get the job.

Other reasons that interviewers ask this type of question are because they want to:

Hear your thought pattern

See what’s important to you, by assessing what topics you talk about

Assess your language and grammatical skills

Buy time while they look over your CV Confirming what you have already written in your CV

Look for loopholes in your resume

Gauge your personality, etc.

Remember that this question can make or break your interview. Answer it by summarizing your accomplishments and academic achievements in a chronological way.

Be yourself and stick to the truth. You can’t go wrong if you follow these guidelines.


TimesJobs Messenger

September 9, 2009

So you’ve heard about it, but do you know what it really is, and what an asset it can be to your job hunt? Job Messenger is one of the tools in TimesJobs.com through which you can receive job(s) directly into your mailbox. Cool, huh?

In simple terms, the Job Messenger is created as soon as a candidate creates their complete (note the word complete) profile on TimesJobs. After being created, the Job Messenger settings can be edited anytime by any candidate as per their requirement.

Here are some FAQ’s you might be wondering about:

FAQ 1: How do I set a Job Messenger for myself?

Solution: Login. Go to ‘My TimesJobs’ section. Click the ‘Edit’ button under the Job Messenger Settings section.

FAQ 2: What do I need to keep in mind when setting a Job Messenger for myself?

Solution: You don’t need to be a rocket scientist. All you need to do is fill the following fields correctly:

Step 1. Key Skills – Remember to fill in as many key skills as you can and just separate them with commas. For example you can write: Java, Oracle, Servlet, SAP, Strategic Planning, Market Analysis, Product Development, etc.

Step 2. Experience – Mention your work experience in the range of years. It should look something like this. If you have a work experience of 3 years and 5 months then select the range as 3 – 4 yrs.

Step 3. Functional Area – Don’t forget to mention your Functional Area correctly. This is key. You can select multiple Functional Areas, but it would be better if you select only 1 Functional Area so as to make it stand out more.

Step 4. Area of Specialization – Make sure you mention your Area of Specialization correctly. With this field, you can select multiple areas of specialization.

Step 5. Preferred Location – Select the location where you are looking to work, the location where you want the job.

If you follow the above advice, the Job Messenger settings will get you jobs in your mailbox.

In order to save your time you can also use TimesJobs to directly apply for a job without you logging in specifically just to apply. All you need to do is click and apply and you will get automatically logged in with your application sent to the respective employer immediately.

Apart from the Jobs based on your Job Messenger settings your Job Messenger will also contain Jobs similar to the jobs last applied by you and Jobs similar to the last searches performed by you on TimesJobs.com.

So keep searching and applying to Jobs in order to avail more benefits form your TimesJobs Job Messenger! All the best!

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Job hunt the easy way

September 2, 2009

What would you do in the following situations?

You’ve to reach the 10th floor in an office tower. You can go by two ways:
a. Climb up the stairs
b. Use an elevator

You want to write a message to your friend. You can write in two ways:
a. Send a handwritten letter by post
b. Send an e-mail

You want to withdraw money. You can do so in two ways:
a. Visit a bank
b. Use an ATM

There is nothing tricky about these questions, and the answers are so obvious. Can you, however, see the not-so-obvious phenomenon underlying our everyday choices? We like to spend least possible effort to accomplish our objectives.

Our tendency to spend as little effort as possible is so strong that most of the technologies, products and services are aimed at helping us achieve just that: least effort! Behind the auto-redial function on phones, Internet banking and ready-made food stuff is our basic need to minimise the effort.

The hiring process is not immune to our nature to spend the least effort. The only catch is that when job seekers take the path of least effort, they invariably create a path of more effort for the employers and that doesn’t work. On the other hand, when job seekers consciously enable the employers to follow the path of least effort, they stand to gain. Here is how it works:

Resume
As a job seeker, the natural inclination is to prepare a resume as fast as possible and shoot it out to as many employers as possible. When you do that you create two problems:

First, a resume prepared in a hurry is likely to be long, complicated, unfocused, and may contain mistakes. Second, a generic resume fails to connect with the unique needs of different employers. When recruiters look at such resumes, they are unable to figure out candidates’ suitability as quickly and clearly as they would like to do. As a result, hurriedly prepared, generic resumes go to the rejection pile.

The smartness lies in spending more effort in preparing your resume so that employers spend least effort while dealing with it. Specifically, that means:

  • tailoring your resume according to each employer’s unique needs
  • keeping it short—2 pages or 3 pages (max.)
  • ensuring it contains only the relevant information
  • keeping it simple, credible and without any mistakes

Interview
Job seekers appear at interviews expecting employers to question them and assess their suitability. But when you follow this common approach, you demand more effort from employers. They have to first dig out all the relevant information from you, and then make an assessment whether you fit into their needs.

On the contrary, if you take the initiative during an interview to show your understanding of employer’s needs and then demonstrate how you can fulfil them, you take them along the path of least effort. And employers would prefer such candidates.

Job hunting
Typically, job seekers focus on job openings advertised in the newspapers or on the Internet. For employers, however, the route of advertising vacancies, then getting flooded with applications and interviewing scores of candidates is a route of “more effort.”

A quick way to find a job would be to get in touch with potential employers either through contacts or directly. That way, you’ll save them the extra effort. That’s the reason why many smart job seekers get jobs by networking or showing the guts to approach employers directly.

The bottom line: To enjoy success in the job market, consciously help potential employers to take the path of least effort. Invariably, this would mean making more effort on your side at every stage of the hiring process. But isn’t that extra effort worth it if it helps to shorten your job search?

Atul Mathur is the author of three ebooks: 5 Quick Steps to a New Job, The Best Career Move: Know Yourself and The Secret of Finding the Right Career Direction.